Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


Karen Bertroch

Lois Burkhalter, 83, of Grays River is a dairyman in her own right building up the family farm.

Jackson Blalock with "Sea Change" came to visit me to ask about my thoughts on the Grays River, what I know about the river's history and my thoughts on what can be done to help the river. As we visited, I realized he's coming at his thinking in a good way because he wants to learn what "we the people" think and want before he starts making any plans. He has read past reports and studies and he understands a great deal of the information others have offered. He made me quite happy when he talked about his ideas for moving forward. He wants to know what landowners on the Grays think, what we are concerned about and what we'd like to see as possible projects. He is aware that the Grays has little in fish population now. He understood when I showed him a view of the river downstream from the Covered Bridge and the huge gravel/silt bar that's built up. He sees that gravel is also silt and together they can cause damage to farmland and not increase spawning. He attended a couple meetings recently, the GR Enhancement District's meeting of their Board, and Dan Cothren's quarterly conservation meeting. He is planning a series of workshops to help the community discuss what we currently see happening and what we'd like to see done to help. He recently also had a workshop in Chinook that had far more people attend than was expected. I'd like to see the same happen in our area, too. I will give you the exact dates of his workshops when I get them.

Photo of the Week: Lois Burkhalter of Grays River. Last week I was honored to interview Lois Burkhalter for Wahkiakum West's series, "Take a Break with Karen." The first interview of the day was Lois, a matriarch of the large family living in Rosburg. At 83, she is as bright and shiny as a four-year old in pre-school, smiling and pleased to share her stories and memories. Her own family history starts in Switzerland, then moves across the northern United States to settle in Pacific County. She and her husband, Bob, married in 1940. Bob a teacher, came to teach at Naselle in 1966. Later they bought the house and farm where Austin and Nicole Burkhalter now live. Bob taught at both the Naselle School and the Rosburg School teaching 7th, 8th and 5th grade. Between 1950 and 1960, Lois and Bob had four children: Adna, Gary, Leann and Arlene (not in that order). In 1978, Lois had twenty-eight cows to milk in the mornings, then Bob came home from teaching and he did the evening milking. I think about her life with four children and twenty-eight cows and wonder when she had time to be a 4-H leader. She and Bob often ran the cow barn at the Wahkiakum County Fair. She told me that right before the County Fair, life was very busy with all the kids getting their animals ready, grooming them and making sure they were healthy. The girls were also busy sewing their 4-H garments as well. Lois made a lot of their clothes, so they easily learned to sew from their mother. Their milk was sold to Darigold/Mayflower Farms at that time. The family has also taken responsibility for the historic cemetery located near the barn. The Rosburg family is buried there, but information about that family is sparse. The Cemetery is in a large grove of old cedar trees. Those trees will take your breath away because it is such a rare treat to see those old trees clustered together with deep shade. The family had to do some searching to make sure the cemetery was registered with the county and sure enough, it is, with several old families buried there. Lois told me May is the best month to see it because of the ground cover in the grove. Lois has always been an active gardener. The driveway to her home is lined with daffodils and it's a stunning reminder of spring beauty in the Grays River Valley. Lois was, and still is, actively involved in the Grays River Methodist Church. She lives in a beautiful home she and Bob built with lovely views and grounds. Her son, Gary, and his wife, Susan run their organic farm on Altoona Pillar Rock Road, and their son, Austin, and his wife, Nicole live in the original Burkhalter house on SR 4 below the post office. Austin also works on the farm. Kyle, Austin's brother, lives out Altoona Pillar Rock Road, so Lois is surrounded with her family close by.

Josh Thompson. Just met a new local finish carpenter, who lives on Altoona Pillar Rock Road. Not too many years ago it was hard to find anyone. Glad to have you in the neighborhood, Josh and his wife, Jamie. Josh can be reached at (360) 739-6424.

New Events: So many events are beginning to line up for Spring. FAFF's events at the Naselle Community Center: April 15 at 1 pm, Paint Party with Abbie Smith. April 23: Concert with Henri Aalto on guitar, presented by the Finlandia Foundation; May 13: Mother and child tea party; and the Mid-summer event will be on June 23. Details on the event to come later.

The Naselle Library is going great guns for kids and families this spring. Here are examples: Movie Nights: 4/5 – Man Called Otto; 4/12- Biggest Little Farm; 4/19 – Wings of Life; 4/26 – Fly Away Home. All movies are at 4 pm. + Men's Coffee Group at Library: 1st Monday of month 10-11:30. Hosted by OBH Clinic. + Play Group for little ones: Wednesdays from 10-11:30 at the library. + Legos Group: 1st Fridays 10:30 -11 / April 5 – May 31.

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church sponsors quilters in mornings and knitters in afternoons.

First Thursday of the month: On April 6, Gardening group meets at Johnson Park at 6 p.m.

First Thursday of the month: On April 6, Caregiver Support Group at Naselle Library with hospital staff from 1-2.

April 5 and 19: Senior Lunch Club meets at Rosburg Hall at noon.

Wednesday: Second Wednesday of the month, April 12, Grays River Habitat Enhancement group meets at Grays River Fire Hall across from Duffy's at 5:15.

Wednesdays: AA meeting at the Grays River Grange at noon.

Third Tuesday, April 18, NGRV School Board meets at 6:30 in school library.

CAP Senior Lunches: CAP/Thursday Senior Lunches are located inside Rosburg Hall at noon.


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